Is there an idiom expressing the idea that "things never change"? By that I mean, there will always be war, bad people, etc. Is there an idiom that you can use to mean that? The closest phrase, idiom I could think of is "It's just like the old days", but it doesn't really mean that "there are some things that will never change."

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    Hiya. I'm not an English expect in any way but I would love to put my two cents in. The closest thing I can think of is "carved/etched/set in stone". For instance, "The schools are constantly developing new guidance courses for the delinquent juveniles, but they do so in vain as the problematic teenagers seem to be set in stone." (sorry, couldn't think of a shorter sentence) Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 19:17
  • @LironIlayev "Set in stone" suggests permanence, but not necessarily inertia. It's also not something normally used with people, since that would create an odd metaphor. Instead it's more commonly associated with things like traditions, patterns, or laws, e.g. "the school rules were set in stone". This suggests the rules are difficult to change, but not that people don't want them to change. Instead you can try a similar metaphor like hidebound.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 19:41

3 Answers 3


Nothing new under the sun.

Conveys that nothing ever really changes.


plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

the more things change, the more they stay the same

Not techncially English, but well-known enough to be considered part of the English language


The Collins dictionary has the phrase

Twas ever thus
Things never change

This actually needs an apostrophe because

'Twas ever thus

is short for

It was ever thus

Which means: things were always like this.


There are a number of related idioms. For example Liron Ilayev's suggestion:

set in stone: "The doctrines of the Church are set in stone", the cardinal lamented, "not subject to the shifting winds of public opinion"

"Set in stone" suggests something (such as a tradition, practice, pattern, law, or rule) that is difficult to change, even if people want it to change. If, however, you want to suggest the people themselves are reluctant to change:

hidebound: The older members of the club are hidebound and will not consider changing the group’s membership requirements.

or similarly:

mired in tradition: Many educational establishments are too mired in tradition, and incapable of admitting that students can be taught in any number of ways that don't involve sitting in lecture for hours.

Some aphorisms that mean exactly this:

The more things change, the more they stay the same

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

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